We’ve re-platformed the Co-op Legal Services website

We’ve moved Co-op Legal Services website from a content management system (CMS) managed by a third-party supplier to a new CMS – managed and controlled by our internal Digital team. 

The reason for the change wasn’t because we wanted to re-design the site – it was because the old CMS was costly to maintain and would soon be ‘out of support’ which meant it would no longer receive security updates.  

Screen shot of the Co-op Legal Services homepage

The new website is part of a shared platform used by Co-op Food and Co-op Funeralcare making it cost effective and easier to maintain because we are sharing best practice and development across all our business areas.  

Balancing our 2 competing priorities 

The biggest risk to the project was losing traffic because of a dip in our Google rankings (our ‘SEO’). There was a very reasonable assumption that any loss of traffic would result in loss of sales. 

At the same time if we didn’t change the design and code to match Co-op’s design system it would make the site costly to build and maintain.  

This meant we had 2 competing priorities: 

  1. Maintaining SEO. 
  2. Reducing cost.

By changing the design and content, we’d risk SEO, however if we didn’t change the design we wouldn’t reduce the costs.  

Maintaining SEO was the main tool we used to decide any technical or design decisions. The compromise for the project was to ensure we migrated all the pages with the same URL structure, meta description, links and content but presented that content in a different way using the standard Co-op shared components which are used on our other major websites across the Co-op business areas. 

Testing the UX 

Changing the visual design of any site means it may affect important goal completions for the website. The key metrics for the Legal website are the number of: 

  • calls 
  • callback requests  
  • services started online, for example creating a will 

To ensure we were comfortable with the visual changes we A / B tested some of the smaller visual changes on the old site. 

For the larger design changes we sent 50% of organic users to our beta site and 50% of users stayed on the live website. We then measured how the KPIs compared.  

This test is slightly different to other tests we might usually do. Normally we are trying to make improvements to UX but the goal was to ensure the changes we were about to make to the site didn’t adversely affect our KPIs. It wasn’t necessarily about making improvements but maintaining the status quo. 

Testing SEO  

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell what Google will do when you make a change to a website.  

However, we prepared as best as we could by: 

  • removing over 1,300 critical SEO errors  
  • ensuring no 404 errors (missing pages) encountered after the switch   

What we’ve seen 

The new co-oplegalservices.co.uk went live 30 September. 

Website re-indexation in search engines including Google often takes time when changes to websites are made – sometimes it can take weeks for the full effect to become apparent. Enough time has passed now that we can confidently say the site replatform was a success at maintaining SEO.  

Here’s what we’ve seen so far: 

  1. The year-on-year comparison returns an 8 to 14% uplift on most days since migration.  
  1. There are individual keywords fluctuations. The number of featured snippets (the top result that appears in a box below the adverts in a Google search) is higher than pre-migration (from 80 to 96 today).  
  1. The total visibility of our tracked ranking keywords have dropped by 3% since the migration.  However, the impact on core business areas is negligible.  
  1. Enquiries coming through the website are comparable to before the website go-live, all show favourable figures in terms of overall enquiry volume and conversion rates.  

We are still at the stabilising phase but so far the results are looking good.  

We can now say with a high degree of certainty the re-platform has improved the website’s conversion rates and number of enquiries it generates from existing traffic sources. This provides a strong platform to start future optimisation and testing to further improve the site. 

So not only have we reduced the sites running costs and made considerable savings, we’ve maintained SEO and improved our conversion rates.  

What we might do  

Throughout the project there was a massive temptation to make improvements to the content and structure of the site. We didn’t want to change too much at the same time – that wouldn’t  have been a good way to observe the impact on our Google ranking. However, now the site is live and we are happy the replatform has been a success we can start making changes to the content and layout. We’ve already started conducting a number of A / B tests on the new site to start iterating on what we’ve already created. 

We’ll keep you posted. 

Peter Brumby

Product manager

We’ve officially moved to coop.co.uk

Since launching our brand in May, the web address we’ve promoted and printed on things has been coop.co.uk. For those of you paying close attention you’ll have noticed coop.co.uk just redirected to co-operative.coop – but not anymore.

All 11,647 co-operative.coop pages and pdf links now use our new web address.

coop.co.uk

Why coop.co.uk?

We need to acknowledge how our members refer to us and search for us. Most people call us the Co-op and search for us without the hyphen (83% of users). You can find out more in Nick’s post ‘Why we’ve moved to coop.co.uk’.

No lost links

Changing your web address is very similar to moving house. To make sure people continue to visit, you need to tell them you’ve moved.

Google and Bing are the most important people to tell. If we didn’t do this correctly our site would be a lot harder to find.

We also made sure our old URL co-operative.coop and our even older URL co-op.co.uk 301 redirected to our new web address.

So if you typed:

co-op.co.uk/about-us

Or

co-operative.coop/about-us

It would go to coop.co.uk/about-us

Was it a success?

Making any change to your URL is risky and will normally see a drop in visitors coming to your site via search. We predicted our website would take up to two months to recover.

It’s still too early to tell how successful the change has been and we’ll continue to monitor, but a good indication is how quickly Google and Bing has recognised the change. This can take several weeks but only took a week.

More changes to come

We’re building a new version of coop.co.uk which you can take a look at.

We’ve also started to change all our other website addresses to be subdomains of coop.co.uk. Subdomains let us add a word before our URL. For example our jobs site is now jobs.coop.co.uk. Any link we promote in TV, print and so on will start coop.co.uk. So for the jobs site we would promote it as coop.co.uk/jobs.

I’ll be explaining more about URL strategy soon but if you have any questions or comments let me know.

Peter Brumby
Digital Channels Manager

The art of conversation generation

The art of conversation is a difficult one to master, but as Community Managers at The Co-op, we’re responsible for predicting and evaluating the direction and volume of conversation across social media – in real time. In short, we help turn social conversation around our brand into an asset.

So when it came to Valentine’s Day this year, the objective was clear. Co-op Food were going after breakfast. After all, we are your local convenience store with all you need for the perfect breakfast in bed, from freshly baked croissants to award-winning Prosecco, or even just some (Fairtrade) tea bags for a morning brew! It made sense.

Food Marketing, PR and the commercial teams worked on their above-the-live proposition, looping in the support of Channel 4’s Fred Sirieix from #FirstDates, and we in the Social Media Community Management team set about generating the right conversation, at the right time!

We had two simple objectives: encourage users to share inspiration beforehand and then share in real-time on the big day. We choreographed a strategy in two phases. Firstly we hit key online influencers (who we already know and love) with a surprise through the post – Truly Irresistible croissants, coffee, Valentine’s chocolate and some Hazelnut spread for a truly indulgent breakfast in bed. All this, ahead of the big day, as a taster for them and their audiences. This acted as a catalyst with the influencer community sharing their breakfast ideas in the week running up to Valentine’s Day.

Then we targeted consumers with the next batch ensuring their #LoveAtFirstLight breakfast box arrived on Saturday 13th, just in time for their Sunday morning treat where they gladly shared photos of their breakfast from bed, the beach and with their whole family too!

Co-op's valentine's conversation on 14th February (green) versus the grocery market's campaigns
Co-op’s valentine’s conversation on 14th February (green) versus the grocery market’s campaigns

Together these simple gestures helped Co-op Food become the #1 most talked about Valentine’s campaign within the UK grocery sector on Valentine’s morning. 20% of the day’s conversation was made up of our audiences sharing their breakfast in bed with us too. Our volume peaked at 11am and we then handed over the Valentine’s baton to the likes of Aldi, but our work as your local Co-op was done. We’d served breakfast in bed to the nation and it was delicious.



Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

Why we’ve deleted 20 websites

At the beginning of 2015 the Co-op had over 250 websites. Every department, campaign and anything with a budget wanted their own domain. As our online presence expanded, our resources stayed the same. Trying to maintain content quality and accuracy was futile.

We failed to ask ourselves one simple question… do we really need them all?

When is it time to delete a website?

 

For the last five months we’ve been busy removing websites. Deciding which ones stay or go is an emotive process. To keep emotion out of it we asked ourselves the following:

Are people still using the site?

Some decisions were easy to make. After looking at our site analytics, 12 websites had less than 100 visits in the last year so they were removed.

Stats showing no one is visiting the Santa Dash site
The number of visitors for our Santa Dash campaign site had flat-lined

Is the content still relevant and up to date?

I’m sure the Co-op isn’t alone in creating websites for marketing campaigns. Part of any campaign should also include how effectively you close it – unfortunately for some this was never done. They’re done now. We also created one page summaries for three sites which were still receiving over 500 unique views a month such as the 2014 campaign “Have Your Say”. In a few more months we’ll review the content again and press delete if we think it’s right.

Is it best for our members maintaining XYZ site?

It takes time and money to run a website and ensure they meet user needs. We therefore need to decide if this time and money is better employed elsewhere to benefit our members.

Are we duplicating content?

The problem we have at the moment is trying to manage very similar content across multiple sites. We’re now looking at ways to combine sites with similar content/themes and you will see the results of this soon.

Does the website fit with our digital strategy?

With Mike Bracken joining the Co-op to lead Digital we now have a clearer vision of what our Digital estate should be.

As a result we’re now starting to see tighter controls put in place to decide when a website should be created.

Lessons learnt

In a big business like the Co-op there are a lot of great ideas all vying for attention. But how do you decide what’s important?

Unfortunately we’ve been too keen to say yes to everyone instead of spending the time to decide what is best for our members and users.

If you look at our main site, co-operative.coop, we have 114 links on the homepage. 101 of those links go to another website or micro-site. It’s very easy to get lost in a maze of websites.

What are we doing now?

It takes time to review and potentially delete or migrate a site. So far, we’ve removed 20 sites and work is underway to delete/migrate another 12. For each we have to look at the user impact and how it affects the Co-op. I’m sure there’ll be more changes to come as we continue to evolve with our member needs.

The better we make our digital estate the easier it will be for our users to understand what we do and for our members to experience digital co-operation in action.


@peterbrumby, Digital Communications Manager for the Co-op

Creating content for a crowded market

Even for big brands, entering a crowded space can be difficult with lower chances of success. Just to put this into perspective, in December 1.7m blog posts were published each day on WordPress sites. In December 2015 we spoke about drink driving and championed road safety for General Insurance yet knew we needed a unique angle; something credible whilst interactive for users to take notice of and resonate with. We broke through and turned a famously negative story in to a positive one and developed a designated driver finder, encouraging users to designate a driver over the festive period.

Designated Driver Finder Hompage image 1Designated Driver Finder Wheel image 2

The simple functionality allowed 5 user names to be entered and a driver chosen at random. We added an engagement feature which rewarded the driver with an IOU, owed to them by their friends. This added humour and increased shareability.

As our main objective was to generate links we commissioned research to add credibility. Unique data partnered with interactive onsite content allowed us to attract links and brand mentions from top tier websites. We also tracked engagement on blogs who featured our content and found various angles such as Christmas mocktails and shared their stories.


Jen Bowden, SEO Manager – @jenbowden1

#doorstepchallenge, how we did it

You may have seen the #doorstepchallenge viral campaign that lit up our social feeds over Christmas, spreading a little seasonal warmth and love with the power of paying it forward.

Here at The Co-op, we jumped at the chance to demonstrate our purpose by getting involved in the social conversation whilst highlighting the affinity the challenge had with our Christmas TV advert for The Co-op Food too. Watch the advert here.

Here’s a short video about how we made #doorstepchallenge happen.

 


 

Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

Engaging content marketing for complex industries

Delivering integrated content marketing campaigns in complex industries such as legal or financial services can often be challenging. You want to produce content which is useful but also engages with the user. Content marketing has seen a drastic change over the last few years where the direct sell is being avoided whilst appealing to your user’s interests and behaviours is key.

We decided to focus our efforts on a campaign around legal myths for Co-op Legal Services. Working with our PR and Social Media teams from the start was essential to deliver a joined up campaign. From commissioning research for the Press, working with the practice areas to answer common questions to defining a target audience for Facebook, all were vital.

Quiz_Cover

We knew legal misconceptions often divided opinion therefore a quiz felt like the appropriate tool to adopt. Appealing to people’s competitive sides proved to strike a chord as they instantly started sharing their scores on Social Media. Over 5,500 users completed the quiz overall which surpassed previous campaigns. 143,000 impressions were delivered on Facebook with 5,000 users engaging with the post.

A leading Legal IT website featured the quiz on their site as well as bloggers. All of which delivered traffic to the website.

A PDF download of the questions from the quiz with additional examples also achieved strong engagement with 40,000 views on Slideshare.

96% of the traffic from all sources to the campaign were new to the website. Put another way, we were engaging with people who had never visited the website before and we couldn’t think of a better introduction.

This proves that if you do your research, get under the skin of your audience and work collaboratively, you can deliver a results driven campaign. In this instance, the business was also presented to a new audience.

Going Viral for Christmas: #DoorStepChallenge and The Co-op Food TV Ad

#doorstepchallenge

This Christmas we launched our TV advert campaign for Co-op Food to critical acclaim from customers, colleagues and journalists who warmed to the heartfelt message of the simple adto look out for those in need in your community.

As well as ensuring our TV advert was broadcast across the main video social channels – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – social media had a specific part to play in making the content of the TV advert resonate online. Customers across the nation were inspired by the sentiment of our ad and took to their local streets to partake in the so-called #doorstepchallenge, bringing our TV advert’s treatment to life, and to social, in a way we could have only dreamed of! From this, we spied an opportunity to help kickstart the #doorstepchallenge and to help to demonstrate our Group purpose of “championing a better way of doing business, for you and your communities.”

We agreed to fund a set-amount for each of our 850 Community Pioneers, (store colleagues with hours set-aside in their working week to benefit the local community in which their store is based) in Co-op Food products for them to donate to a customer in-need in their store’s local community. In keeping with the spirit of the #doorstepchallenge, Pioneers were asked to deliver the shopping bag (in a Co-op Bag For Life, of course!) to the customers’ doors and take a snap to share on social media, helping inspire others to do the same!

And inspire they did, many Pioneers taking it upon themselves to donate more than was funded, by raising funds in their local stores and by partnering with other community organisations like British Red Cross, British Legion and local community charities.

Doorstep challenge
A simple idea, paired with the incredible enthusiasm and effort of our store colleagues, made for a wonderful contribution to social media conversation this Christmas, and the best way to bridge the gap between our TV ad and social media communities. What’s more, national conversation about #doorstepchallenge was dominated by Co-op above any other grocer, helping us solidify our place as the community focussed retailer among the pack!

#doorstepchallenge
Top mentioned tweeters and hashtags for Dec 2015


Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

 

Christmas Blogger Event Wrap-up Video

In the run-up to Christmas last year, we held the Co-op’s first event to engage specifically with bloggers. Over the past year, we’ve built on from that first event, collaborating with the bloggers on campaigns and product reviews – working with them to build long-term relationships and turn them into partners and brand advocates.

The 2nd Christmas blogger event was held a few weeks ago. The invited bloggers took to social media to talk about the event, causing it to trend in Manchester. Watch the video to get behind the scenes…

Transformation observations

We’re going for it. Shifting a massive chunk of our digital development programme to continuous delivery. That gives me butterflies!

Having run a team of ‘UXers’ that all ache to work in a proper Agile way has been a challenge. We often found ourselves reliant on a super-human delivery manager (namecheck: Victoria Mitchell) to hold back the mountains of Waterfall documentation and ‘sign-offs’ to enable us to work in our Agile bubble. It didn’t really work.

By bursting that bubble and working alongside the business, engineering and operations we are immediately… but I’m not going to espouse the virtues of that here, there’s plenty bigger brains that have done that.

I just want to share some early observations from a UX team perspective as we make that change:

1) We all do UX

We don’t call ourselves a UX team anymore, we are part of a design team. We are all responsible for the user experience: marketing, IT, designers, shop colleagues, call centre colleagues, CEOs… it’s how we work together that delivers the experience. I believe our artists-formerly-known-as-UXers have a key role in evangelising their ingrained user-centric principles across the business. Ensuring everybody is focused on delivering a service that meets people’s needs.

2) Lose the IT and Business/Marketing divide

Being in ‘Digital’ I have often been the buffer between Marketing and IT, the former feeling restricted and stifled, and the latter feeling criticised when all they want to do is keep the business safe. Not only does an understanding have to break out, but the boundaries need to be removed completely. Have multi-disciplined teams, delivering specific products not departments emailing huge documents over ‘the fence’ ensuring they are safe from blame of failure. We now have a team of Engineers, Delivery Managers, Business Analysts, Interaction Designers, Content Designers literally sat side by side delivering the ‘thing’.

IMAG0004
Our multi-disciplined team in post-it heaven

3) Find, empower and trust super-smart decision-makers

Another massive change is required to make this work. The multi-discipline team can’t do their thing if the business isn’t able to provide decisive direction at the same pace. This is where our next challenge is. We need rapid, smart decisions and for that, rapid, smart, decision-makers who are trusted and empowered to take responsibility for their product. Enter product managers, new roles to the Co-op, but very much needed to ensure that the transformation happens. It is these folk that will play a vital part in ensuring the Co-op can transform now, but continue to help a modern Co-op respond rapidly to members’ and customers’ changing needs.

Are you a product manager? Contact Polly Haslam to see if there’s an opportunity for you.